Motions Filed In Federal Court To Halt East Hampton Airport Closure

East Hampton Airport
A years-long dilemma between the community of East Hampton, New York and general aviation stakeholders has reached a critical point with an attempt to pause the planned closure of the airport on May 17.
Credit: NBAA

Stakeholders, including the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), have filed a pair of motions in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York requesting to pause the planned closure of East Hampton Airport (HTO).

The town board of East Hampton intends to close the public airport on May 17 and then reopen the facility 33 hours later as a private-use East Hampton Town Airport (JPX), which will include access restrictions under a Prior Permission Required (PPR) framework. 

Such restrictions include bans on aircraft weighing more than 50,000 lbs., aircraft with an Effective Perceived Noise in Decibels (EPNdb) on approach of 91 or greater, trip limits on Part 135 and 91(k) operations, curfews, higher requirements for IFR operations, and landing fees that NBAA claims to be some of the highest in the nation.

“Allowing this airport’s closure and reopening to proceed would undermine decades of federal policy and create a dangerous path by which other communities could similarly claim ‘local control,’ restrict access to their airports and destroy the functionality of the national air transportation system,” NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen says.

To achieve their goal of closing the airport, which mostly stems from noise concerns, the town stopped accepting federal grant funds and ran out the 20-year clock on its grant-based obligations in September 2021. According to the town board, the closure will rid them of their remaining statutory obligations, allowing them to impose restrictions to curtail aircraft operations. 

A motion of contempt was filed on May 14 by NBAA and other claimants asserting the town’s plan violates the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA) along with an injunction issued by the court after a similar attempt was made by the town to impose restrictions in 2015.

General aviation partners have encouraged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to put the town on notice that its plan is inconsistent with ANCA. However, to date the agency has not taken any formal measures to stop the town board’s actions.